Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).
1. According to Genesis 13:8-12 (printed below), what choice did Lot make and why?
Then Abram said to Lot, I beg you, let there be no conflict between me and you, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. (9) Is not the whole land before you? I ask you, please separate yourself from me. If you will go to the left, then I will go to the right. Or if you will go to the right, I will go to the left. (10) Lot looked up and observed that all the Plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere, it was like the garden of Jehovah, or like the land of Egypt as you go towards Zoar. (This was before Jehovah destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) (11) So Lot chose for himself all the Plain of the Jordan. Then Lot journeyed east. So they separated themselves from one another. (12) Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled in the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. (Genesis 13:8-12)
When Abram suggested that he and Lot go in separate directions because their herds were too large to be sustained together in the same vicinity, Lot chose to settle in the plain beyond the Jordan River. In so doing Lot was departing from the Promised Land of Canaan and settling among the notorious sinners of Sodom. His choice was motivated by the desire to preserve and promote his own material wealth, without consideration for his spiritual well being.
2. Compare and contrast the divine visitation Abraham received (see Genesis 18:1, 16-21, printed below) with that which Lot received (see Genesis 19:1, 12-13, printed below). What lesson do we learn from this?
And Jehovah appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day…(16) When the men got up to leave, they looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to bring them on their way. (17) And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do; (18) seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed by him? (19) The reason I have known Abraham is so that he may instruct his children and his household after him to keep the way of Jehovah—to do righteousness and justice; so that Jehovah may bestow upon Abraham that which he has promised concerning him. (20) And Jehovah said, Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and because their sin is very grievous; (21) I will now go down and investigate whether they have done all that the protest that has been brought before me charges; and if not, I will know. (Genesis 18:1,16-21)
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening. Now Lot was sitting at the entrance gate of the city. When Lot saw them, he stood up to greet them; bowing himself with his face to the ground…(12) Then the men said to Lot, Do you have any family members living here beside yourself? Whomever you have living in the city—your sons-in-law, your sons, and your daughters—take them out of here; (13) for we are about to destroy this place. The outcry to Jehovah against this people is so great that he has sent us to destroy this city. (Genesis 19:1,12-13)
The Lord and His angels appear to Abraham and meet with him as he sits by the oaks of Mamre (18:1). In contrast to this meeting, it is only the two angels who come to Lot as he sits at the gate of Sodom (19:1). The Lord shares His plans with Abraham: He makes known His intention of judging Sodom and the reason for that judgment (18:16-21). The angels merely inform Lot of the impending judgment about to fall upon Sodom and urge him to escape (19:12-13). One lesson we need to learn from this is that if we neglect God in our decision-making, our fellowship with Him will suffer (note Psalm 25:14, The friendship of Jehovah is with those who fear him; and he will fulfill his covenant with them).
3. Compare and contrast the way in which Abraham shows hospitality to his heavenly visitors (see Genesis 18:6-8, printed below) with the way Lot entertains his heavenly guests (see Genesis 19:3, printed below).
So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, Quickly prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it, and bake some bread. (7) Then Abraham ran to the herd, selected a tender and choice calf, and gave it to his servant who hurried to prepare it. (8) Abraham took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them. He stood near them under the tree while they ate. (Genesis 18:6-8)
But he strongly urged them; so they went with him and entered his house. Lot made a feast for them. He baked unleavened bread, and they ate. (Genesis 19:3)
When the Lord and His angels appear before Abraham, he entertains them with a great feast: cakes made of fine flour, a tender calf, curds and milk (18:6-8). When the two angels arrive at Lot’s house in Sodom, he also entertains them with a “feast:” a “feast” that consists of nothing more than unleavened bread (19:3). Bear in mind that Sodom had for 12 years paid large sums of tribute money to the warlord, Chedorlaomer Genesis 14:4); and the city of Sodom had finally been plundered by his armies (Genesis 14:11).
4. Compare and contrast the promise the Lord makes concerning Abraham’s family (see Genesis 18:9-10,14, printed below) with the fate that befell Lot’s family (see Genesis 19:14,26, printed below).
Where is your wife Sarah? they asked him. There in the tent, he said. (10) Then Jehovah said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son. … (14) Is anything too hard for Jehovah? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. (Genesis 18:9-10,14)
Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who were married to his daughters. He said to them, Get up and get out of this place, because Jehovah is about to destroy the city. But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be a man who was joking…(26) … Lots wife, who was following him, looked back and she was turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:14,26)
The Lord promises Abraham that at long last Sarah, his wife, shall bear him the promised covenant son (18:9-10). This shall be a supernatural blessing derived from the Lord’s omnipotent power (18:14) and His covenant faithfulness. Lot, on the other hand, suffers tragic losses in his family. His sons-in-law scoff at his warning, and they (together with Lot’s married daughters) perish in the judgment that descends upon Sodom (19:14). Lot’s wife turned back and she perished in the judgment that befell the city (19:26). Note: later, Lot’s two unmarried daughters, destitute and frantic, will commit incest and produce two of Israel’s greatest enemies: Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:30-38).
5. Compare and contrast Abraham’s situation at the time of Sodom’s judgment (see Genesis 19:27-28, printed below) with Lot’s situation (see Genesis 19:15-17, printed below). What lesson must we learn from all these things?
When Abraham got up early in the morning and came to the place where he had stood before Jehovah; (28) he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the Plain. As he watched, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:27-28)
As soon as it was morning, the angels hurried Lot out, saying, Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, so that you will not be consumed with the iniquity of the city. (16) But Lot lingered; so the men took hold of his hand, and the hand of his wife, and the hand of his two daughters—Jehovah being merciful to him—and dragged him away, setting him outside the city. (17) Then, after they had brought them away from the city, he said, Flee for your life; do not look behind you, neither stay in any part of the Plain. Flee to the mountains, so that you will not be consumed. (Genesis 19:15-17)
Abraham witnesses from afar the judgment that fell upon Sodom, standing safely on the heights of the Promised Land (19:27-28). The words of the Psalmist apply to Abraham at this point: “Only with your eyes shall you see and observe the reward the wicked receive. (9) You, O Jehovah, are my refuge! You have made the Most High your dwelling place; (10) therefore no calamity shall befall you, neither shall any plague come near to your tent.” (Psalm 91:8-10) Lot, on the other hand, is snatched from the impending judgment at the last moment, being dragged out by the angels of the Lord and commanded to flee for his life. These two lives, distinct from one another, can be traced back to Genesis 13 and the respective choices that were made at that time. Abraham made a godly decision: in obedience to the Lord, he remained in the land of Canaan—the Promised Land. Lot neglected to consider the Lord in his decision: thinking only of earthly security and worldly gain, he departed from the Promised Land and thereby violated his covenant responsibility.